Join the No Matter What Club: Staying Sober Despite the Situation
One of the biggest myths surrounding rehab and treatment is that once someone gets sober, life will go straight back to normal. Does reaching initial sobriety mean that life becomes perfect? Not at all. One of the most significant things someone who enters recovery must do is learn how to be resilient in stressful situations. Stress is a primary contributor to drug and alcohol abuse. For people who are on the journey to recovery, they’ll want to join the “No Matter What Club.” The No Matter What club’s number one goal is to learn how to stay sober, regardless of the situation.
What are some of the biggest stressors people can face after recovery?
The myth that life becomes perfect after recovery is just that – a myth. Life throws everyone curveballs, no matter if they’ve struggled with addiction issues in the past or not. The problem that people with addictive tendencies face, though, is that these stresses and unfortunate situations can trigger them to use drugs or alcohol to cope. For people who haven’t been given a chance to develop resilience to stress, getting high or drunk may seem like the perfect escape. People who are fresh out of rehab haven’t had much time to hone their resilience and create coping mechanisms for stress that don’t include drinking or using drugs. For those in recovery, developing skills and techniques for staying sober is a life-long journey. Some of the biggest stressors people can face are:
- Job loss and financial stress
- Relationship breakdowns
- Death of a loved one
- Sickness and injury
- Toxic workplace or living environments
- Adverse mental health symptoms
The “life is perfect after rehab” myth is a coin with two sides. On the other side of the coin is what loved ones often believe about their friend or family member who leaves rehab. They sometimes think that a person should never have a recurrence or else rehab was a failure, but this isn’t true. Frequently, relapse is simply a part of the journey. After a person leaves rehab and spends years working on their recovery progress and goals, relapse should be less likely, and any episodes will be fewer and farther between. The following tips can help someone stay sober, no matter what the situation.
Create and Adhere to a Structured Schedule
Rehab facilities give patients structures, predictable schedules, and rules for behavior, conduct, and expectations. These structured environments can provide people with a strong foundation for practicing sober living skills and reaching their goals for recovery. Getting out of rehab often means returning to a place where there are not structured routines or expectations of accountability. Attending a sober living facility as a transitioning point after rehab can undoubtedly help in this regard, but for some people, becoming a resident of sober living facility isn’t feasible. So, the next best thing for joining the “No Matter What” club is to create structure at your own home and adhere to routines that are in sober living homes.
A disorganized lifestyle can undermine recovery goals and processes. When adverse situations arise, having a structured routine can give someone the peace of mind they need to stay away from drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress. In the weeks right after leaving rehab, this time of transition is critical to the overall recovery process. Developing a structured routine with the help of accountability partners and support personnel can make this time of recovery more manageable.
It may be difficult to live at home, or even if your’re in a sober living, there can be challenges. When you’re in the No Matter What Club, you don’t let these challenges allow you to pick up a drink or a drug.
Make Getting and Keeping a Job a Priority
People in recovery often struggle with work-related goals and responsibilities, along with managing their finances. Being addicted for a long time can also wreak havoc on a person’s ability to pursue a fulfilling career, but making work a priority can give those in recovery the routine and structure they need. Working also eases financial burdens and can prevent money-related triggers for drug or alcohol use. When a person in recovery can set and meet job-related goals, it’s a massive boost to their confidence as well.
On the other hand, people must realize that returning to work itself can be a stressful and triggering experience. When these types of situations are triggers for drug use, getting all the support a person can is crucial to their recovery. Accountability partners, twelve-step partners, therapists, and support loved ones can give a person in recovery the encouragement they need to return to work.
Sometimes, jobs don’t work out. In treatment and in 12-step meetings you learn about what you can and can’t control. There are times when jobs have to cut back on staff, or maybe you weren’t a good fit for the company. Losing a job can be stressful, but you don’t pick up no matter what. You rely on your support group and the tools you gained from treatment to help you maintain your sobriety.
Work Through Shame and Guilt
Addiction is a disease that makes people do embarrassing and hurtful things. Guilt is when a person has negative feelings about their past behavior, while shame is what someone feels when they have negative beliefs about themselves. Once a person reaches sobriety, remembering their actions from their time of active drug use can stir up powerful and painful feelings of guilt and shame. Not identifying and addressing these emotions eats away at someone. Guilt and shame become toxic emotions that can cause someone to relapse as a way to cope if they don’t work through these issues appropriately. It’s critical to address these feelings in individual, family, and group therapy for addiction. One step to the recovery process is unpacking emotional baggage from the past and living life responsibly.
After rehab, telling a person who is in recovery to simply “quit drinking and go to 12-step meetings” is a too simple answer. Addiction is a disease that requires a multi-pronged approach to giving someone the best chances of remaining sober for life. Learning how to deal with painful emotions, and developing structure and resiliency to life stressors is a vital part of the recovery process. The more tools and support someone has in their arsenal, the easier it will be for them to avoid drinking or getting high to deal with stress.
Are you or a loved one in recovery for addiction? Ethos Recovery can help. Please contact us today to learn more about our support options for addiction recovery.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.